| FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 5, 2006
Contact: Kelly Fuller, Sierra Club, (619) 933-9969
Utilities Commission Finds Latest Sunrise
SDG&E Withheld Information Despite Previous Commission Requests
San Diego – The California Public Utilities Commission has sent a letter to San Diego Gas and Electric notifying the company that its application to construct the “Sunrise Powerlink” transmission line is incomplete.
Following last spring’s failure of an earlier application to the Utilities Commission, on August 4 SDG&E filed a new application to construct the Powerlink. According to a previously undisclosed letter sent on August 16 but only made public on September 1, the Utilities Commission declared the application’s technical and economic sections and its preliminary environmental assessment are incomplete. SDG&E distributed the Utilities Commission letter, along with a more than 2,000 page “supplement” to its Powerlink application, at 4:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon of the Labor Day weekend. The Utilities Commission has thirty days to determine whether this new filing is adequate.
SDG&E’s late filing means the public now has less than two weeks to review thousands of pages before a Utilities Commission pre-hearing conference and public participation hearing in Ramona on September 13. Likewise, opponents who are filing pre-hearing conference statements now have only three working days to review the new material before a September 7 deadline.
According to the Utilities Commission letter, “… certain critical information items that were clearly presented to SDG&E as being required for completeness were not provided to the Energy Division.” Areas of incomplete information include the project’s engineering and design, impacts, possible alternatives, mitigation, reasons for the suggested routes, costs of the proposed renewable energy facilities that SDG&E claims the line will support, and costs of local power generation that could be an alternative to building the line.
“This is a new low point in SDG&E’s already abysmal record of meaningful public participation,” said Kelly Fuller, a San Diego/Imperial County Sierra Club activist. “By waiting to release important new information until the clock was already ticking on a public-comment period, SDG&E has again shown disrespect to the citizens it’s supposed to serve. We appreciate that the Utilities Commission has acted to protect the public interest by asking SDG&E tough questions.”
“It is clear from the Utilities Commission’s criticism that SDG&E is continuing to suppress information about energy costs, its renewable energy commitments, and the potential for less expensive alternatives to meet our regional energy demands,” added Paul Blackburn, Chair of the San Diego/Imperial County Sierra Club’s Energy Committee. “To keep electricity affordable, we need to choose wisely from among a number of technical solutions, but SDG&E’s withholding of information corrupts this process.”
“The Utility Commission’s criticism of SDG&E’s shoddy environmental analysis makes clear that far more information and time is needed before we will know the full impacts of this project on people and nature,” said David Hogan, Director of the Urban Wildlands Program at the Center for Biological Diversity. “SDG&E’s initial claims that there will be no significant impacts are unsupported, and we support the Utilities Commission’s request that the company fully disclose any harmful effects of the project.”
Competing corporations and groups have proposed a number of solutions to San Diego’s energy demands. The Sunrise Powerlink, a major new electrical transmission line project from the Imperial Valley desert to the north coastal City of San Diego, is SDG&E’s preferred solution. The line would cut through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and many other habitat preserves, parks and communities, thereby causing significant harm to nature and people. SDG&E documents reveal that the Powerlink is just phase one of a master plan by parent company Sempra Energy to extend the line north and expand the California market for imported, cheap, polluting fossil-fuel power from its Mexico power plant and others.
The Utilities Commission’s August 16, 2006 letter to SDG&E is available at: http://sdge.com/sunrisepowerlink/info/SunrisePEACompletenessReviewLetter.pdf.
For more information on the Sunrise Powerlink, please visit www.biologicaldiversity.org and Kelly Fuller’s blog at www.kdfuller.blogspot.com. SDG&E’s Powerlink application materials are available at: http://sdge.com/sunrisepowerlink/CPUC.shtml.